The ‘unique’ 16th hole at TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course has a new nickname — and it’s delicious

SAN ANTONIO — Ask those who consistently play the TPC San Antonio Oaks Course, and the responses regarding the unique design of the 16th green are, um … unsavory.

“Who would do that?”

“I feel like they were trying to torture us.”

“To be honest, I don’t understand what the hell they were thinking when they built that hole.”

These were just a few of the comments from volunteers and members who play the Greg Norman-designed 18 on a regular basis.

The 16th hole measures around 180 yards, depending on tee placement, and includes a feature that is distinctive, to say the least — a massive bunker smack dab in the middle of the green. It’s long been an interesting twist for PGA Tour players at the Valero Texas Open. The attribute was likely paying homage to No. 6 at Riviera Country Club, a course designed by George C. Thomas Jr. and William P. Bell.

The Oaks Course was designed by Norman, in consultation with Sergio Garcia. When Norman was working through the project, Garcia was dating his daughter, Morgan-Leigh Norman. The two split up, however, before TPC San Antonio officially opened in 2010.

TPC San Antonio Oaks
TPC San Antonio Oaks

The StrackaLine yardage book for the 16th hole at TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course in Texas, site of the PGA Tour’s Texas Valero Open (Courtesy of StrackaLine)

And while it’s well-known among locals that a rarely-if-ever used tee box that changes the hole dramatically was all Garcia’s idea, there’s no official word on who came up with the concept to drop a pit in the middle of a luscious green space.

But leave it to a merchandising manager to see how delectable the feature could be.

Enter Liz Ortiz, a graduate of nearby Texas State, who started working in merchandising with the course nearly four years ago. Ortiz admits she knows little about golf, but when she first toured the course, the thing that popped out to her was the green on 16.

“During COVID we were out here looking at the property. It was my first Valero,” said Ortiz, who originally hails from Fort Worth. “The former merchandising manager was showing me around and on 16 I was like, ‘Wow is this called the avocado hole?’ She looked at me and said, ‘No, it’s just 16.’ And I said, ‘Well it looks a lot like an avocado. Let’s call it that.’ But nothing really happened.”

More: The urban legend of TPC San Antonio’s ‘Sergio tees’ on the 16th hole (and will they ever be used again?)

Fast-forward to last winter, when some of the TPC San Antonio staff members were on a call with folks from PGA Tour headquarters to discuss potential logo changes and new merchandise ideas.

Ortiz, who has been promoted, got a nudge from Jason Polka, the resort’s former director of golf, to dust off her idea.

“We normally collaborate on artwork and someone asked if we had a signature hole. I was like, well, not really, but I do love the 16th because it looks like an avocado,” she said. “They loved the idea and mocked up some artwork.”

Merchandise from the 2024 Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. (Photo: Tim Schmitt/Golfweek)

The response was instant. The shirts started flying out of the merchandise tent early Thursday and only picked up steam after local hero Jordan Spieth aced the hole in his opening round of play. By mid-morning on Friday all the shirts were gone.

“Everyone has been coming in here saying, ‘Where’s the avocado shirt? Where’s the avocado shirt?'” Ortiz said. “It’s done really, really well.”

So what’s next, now that The Avocado has clearly struck a chord with fans?

“Next year we’ll try to have more shirts, headwear, accessories, towels, everything,” Ortiz said. “I want to bring it into the golf shop and add it to our network. I think it’s cool.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek